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Archive for January 14th, 2013

Yes, It’s True. And No, You’re Not Heartless To Acknowledge It’s True.

The Left is aghast over the idea that there is a connection between the duration of unemployment benefits extended, and when a recipient accepts a job. In reality, as John Hood explains in detail in this column, it is economic fact, no matter which analysis you choose to embrace.

How much do the estimates of this effect vary? Here are a couple of examples. Ina paper published last year, Makoto Nakajima of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia concluded that federal extensions of UI benefits had pushed the unemployment rate 1.4 percentage points higher than it would otherwise have been during the Great Recession. That works out to be about 30 percent of the increase in unemployment during the period studied.

On the other hand, Rob Valletta and Katherine Kuang of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco published an earlier paper that, using a different model, yielded an effect of only four-tenths of a percentage point.

I say “only” in a relative sense. In absolute terms, we’re still talking about a sizable number of jobs. North Carolina’s U-3 unemployment rate in November 2012 was 9.1 percent, representing about 432,000 people out of a workforce of 4.7 million. If we took the midpoint between the two estimate effects – 0.9 percentage points – and applied it to North Carolina, we could say that without the federal government’s extended-benefits policy, our U-3 rate might be more in the range of 8.2 percent. In other words, about 40,000 more North Carolinians might well be employed today – often at jobs they wouldn’t have preferred, admittedly, but employed nevertheless – if Washington had not embarked on its extended-benefits program.

In the coming days and weeks, the Left will seek to paint any legislator who accepts this fact as an extremist. Remember the data Hood cites when you hear their rhetoric, for that is just what it is — rhetoric designed to denigrate a person rather than enlighten on a policy discussion.

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“This is proof that that demand and desire is there”

North Carolinians are demanding more choices in where to send their children to school, and there is no better evidence that the huge number of letters of intent submitted last week by those who want to open public charter schools. Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports on what’s ahead.

Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a Raleigh-based school-choice advocacy organization, said with 30,000 North Carolina families on charter school waiting lists, he was not surprised to see 154 letters of intent. 

“This is proof that that demand and desire is there,” he said.

However, he cautioned: “When they open up that application packet and see what’s in it, trust me, you will not have 154 applications coming in. It’s hard work, and there will be some, I’m sure, that will pull off to the side of the road and take a break.”

Simply achieving high numbers is not the goal, he said. 

“Though we are unabashedly supportive of quality parental choice,” Allison said, “we will be an organization on the front line advocating just as fervently for quality,” and closing ill-equipped and underperforming charter schools.

And that is key: closing down those schools that trap children in failing bureaucracies, whether they are public charter or traditional public schools.


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How Much Are College Students Learning In North Carolina?

Jenna Ashley Robinson of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy writes here about a voluntary system of accountability for universities. Here’s some background on how the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) works.

CLA assesses students’ abilities to think critically, reason analytically, solve problems and communicate clearly and cogently. CLA is made up of four sections: a performance task, an analytical writing task, a make-an-argument section, and a critique-an-argument section. Scores are aggregated at the institutional level to inform the institution about how their students as a whole are performing. After controlling for college entrance scores (SAT or ACT), freshmen scores are compared with graduating senior scores to obtain the institution’s contribution to students’ results.  Students’ entrance scores help CLA to determine whether a university is at, above, or below expected performance.

Not only did the Academicqlly Adrift authors use the CLA, but Bill Gates endorsed it in early December. He wrote on his blog, The Gates Notes, “most people would agree that skills like critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing—the things the [CLA] test does measure—are pretty important.”

Moreover, postgraduate outcomes mirror the CLA’s results, Arum and Roksa found. “For example, students in the bottom quintile of CLA performance as seniors are more than three times as likely to be unemployed two years after college than graduates whose CLA scores were in the top quintile; they were also twice as likely to be living back at home with their parents,” Arum said.

You’ll find some of the CLA scores for UNC schools in a chart in Robinson’s piece.

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Gov. McCrory: “Government should not be a barricade or an obstacle to progress.”

Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports here on the inauguration of Pat McCrory as North Carolina’s 74th governor. The governor’s address included his views on the role of government.

“As I look out toward Main Street, with government at our back, I see unlimited opportunity,” McCrory said. “Government should not be a barricade or an obstacle to progress. Our face and our approach should be outward, not inward.”

The loudest applause during his address came when he said that government must restrain spending and keep taxes low.

“Government cannot solve all these problems alone because there is no new money falling out of the sky,” McCrory said. “Like struggling families across our state, government has to live within its means. We should not ask for more money from you, because the result is more pain to families and small businesses on Main Street.”


You can read the text of the address, as prepared for delivery, right here.

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Rep. David Lewis Discusses Plans To Require Voters To Show I.D.

The Fayetteville Observer has published an interesting interview with Rep. David Lewis, chairman of the House election law committee, about ideas that could lead to a more secure voting system in our state. Any law must comply with the Voting Rights Act and take into account recent federal court decisions about I.D. plans in other states. Lewis is looking into a number of ideas and issues, including how to get an accurate accounting of registered voters who don’t have an I.D. and then making sure they receive one. Facial recognition technology is also on the table.

He has looked into computer software that recognizes people’s faces to help positively identify voters.

“That point is something that we are considering strongly because we don’t want to implement a strict card-based system when it may be easier … when the better path might be to move to the facial recognition model. But we just aren’t quite there yet in technology.

“But just because we’re not there yet, doesn’t mean we’re not better off to spend the money right the first time, than to go through and work so hard and issue everyone a card and then find out, ‘Well, we could have done this easier otherwise,’ ” he said.

The legislature will pass some kind of voter ID legislation, Lewis said, but it won’t be rushed. House Speaker Thom Tillis wants it done carefully, he said.


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